Not your ordinary vacation

Posted: August 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

We took a mini-vacation from Friday-Monday on the beaches in Michigan. It was great and now we are extending that break to include a ‘vacation at home week.’ This is no ordinary vacation…the projects have already started. There is concrete setting up in a mold as I type to complete our fireplace mantel, and Dave is building a form for our concrete bathroom sink experiment. So stay tuned for some neat pics coming in the next day or two!!


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Pretty please visit this page to see the plans for this headboard…


Twin bed with headboard


We love our most recent furniture project (KING size platform bed and headboard) SO much and think it would make a great kids bed too. Might even have to make this one in a toddler size too next year when Rory graduates from his crib. I’m just learning to use SketchUp design program so bear with me…here are the plans for a twin platform bed:

Twin bed with headboard

What to buy?? (this is for bedframe only): See this link for headboard plan.
-(5) 1×4 (8ft long) – VERY straight boards
-(1) 3/4″ thick sheet 4x8ft plywood
-(1) 2×4 (8 ft long) – to cut up for the legs (or any other scraps you have around
How to cut the boards:
Cut plywood to 78 1/2″ long x 45″ wide
(2) 1×4 cut to 75 3/4″ – top boards
(2) 1×4 cut to 78 1/2″ – side rails
(2) 1×4 cut to 46 1/2″ – end boards
Cut 2×4 every 3 1/2″  to make (20) pieces (if you want to make the legs like we did from scraps)
STEP 1: Attach legs to plywood
STEP 2: Attach side rails (countersink and screw)
STEP 3: Countersink and drill top 3 boards to plywood
STEP4: Use wood filler on holes ,lightly sand and then paint
STEP 5: Add your twin mattress and sweet dreams
(STEP 6): Build headboard

Underside of bed. Attach legs to plywood base.


Attaching the side rail boards

 Anyone want to make this bed for your stylish kids?

We visit Menards almost daily and somehow I had never even noticed this aisle. An aisle full of wall sayings, cool stick on decorations, and ‘not-your-grandma’s wallpaper’ (okay, that’s what I call it since there is no messy paste involved and it actually comes off without any trouble!)

If they really are moveable...I'm sold!

 Here’s how they come out of the package…

The stickers

Time to stick them on the wall…

Getting started

And here’s the final (for now) result.

complete...for now

 I’m already planning to move them down so you can see them through the headboard cutout. Thoughts…Yes? No? 

What do you think about stickers on the wall? Too childish? or fabulous?

Our bed that we recently built is now complete. This headboard was so simple that my hubby even let me play with the power tools and build it myself. Here’s how it turned out:


Here’s how it was made:

We used (5) 1×6 boards and cut them to the width of the bed (which was 86 inches in our case). Attached those to some 1x4s we had on hand.

Yep, that's me cutting our boards down to the width of the bed

Then we sand 'em smooth

Square it up and start drilling

 I pre-drilled the holes and put 2 screws into each board. Also left 9″ legs on the bottom since this is the height of our bed and I wanted the headboard to sit on the floor.

Here's what the back looks like completed

 Next it’s time to paint the front so I picked up 2 cans of Kona Brown color paint to match the bed frame.

Here's how far 1 can of paint got me...

 The second can was plenty to finish this job and touch up any light spots. After patiently waiting for it to dry so I could carry it in…here’s the final result:

Voila! Bed is now complete. Time to work on those walls and new curtains.

 Can you believe how much they sell headboards for at the store? I think this project came in around $25 total including the paint…and a DIY ego boost (you don’t get that anyplace else!)

Cable wire wall decor


Anyone else have a place with a big empty wall? We sure did…until this afternoon. We decided we wanted a way to share all of our current favorite pictures (no surprise our son was part of every picture we could find on our camera!) without having to buy a ton of picture frames (and put a million holes in the wall). We actually had some extra wire sitting around from another project and decided it should not go to waste. So, we ran out to the store to pick up a few things to attach it to the wall.

We needed a piece to screw into the wall that we would wrap the wire around, a clamp to keep the wire from sliding back out, and the longer piece is a the coolest…after connected you can turn it to tighten up the wire to keep it from sagging. Here’s a pic of the packages in case you want to do the same thing…

The equipment to hang the cables

Next step is to mark out where you want to hang the wires and the most important part is to make sure the wires are level. This is my most favorite tool in the house.

Getting everything level

Next step is to attach the pieces to the wall and thread the wire through and clamp it. Here’s a close up:

close-up of cable clamped on

magic cable tightener

 Other end of the cable you’ll need to hook the tightening fastener on first then thread the wire through that piece and clamp it…and Voila!

The cables are up and ready for pictures

 Now for the fun part:

We bought scrapbooking paper/cardstock since it is 12″ square so it would accomodate both vertical and horizontal 8×10 pictures that we wanted to print and still look orderly when hanging. Then I printed all my current favorite pics and opted for a faded border to blend right into the white paper. We simply used binder clips (that came in silver) to hang the pictures from the top AND and bottom so they will not be flapping around.

Pictures are up

 Here’s the finished project! I love how easy it will be to switch out the pictures as time goes on…


Have any other great ideas for huge empty walls? Anyone else want to try this project? Its well worth it. I think it would be great in a kids room full of all their drawings too!

Buh Bye, House Key!

Posted: August 5, 2010 in DIY
Tags: ,

Keypad entry

Deadbolt lock from the inside

Oh, how I love our new keyless entry deadbolt lock. I know its a tiny little feature and we haven’t even updated the ugly door or gold door handle to match. But I just have to mention it since Ican’t stop smiling everytime I use this thing!

And, I realize if you have a garage entry and don’t use house keys this is not nearly as exciting to you….but for the rest of us, worth every penny (which was just $65 by the way)!

We have never been very organized and have a hard enough time keeping track of each set of car keys (since for some reason we only have 1 key for each car?!). And now that we have a kid to tote around it has become so much simpler to be able to just push a few buttons rather than dig out the keys and fanagle them into the lock while carrying 3 bags and a baby.

Did I mention, it also has ‘smartkey’ technology which allows us to set it to any key we want to use (like our already existing side door key) if you prefer that sort of thing.

The Install: Dave installed it on his own w/o any trouble. Just take a mental note on if you have a separate deadbolt or if its part of the handle since they offer both options and its a simple switcheroo if you keep it the same.

And if you want to be SUPER sweet…you could get a keypad with fingerprint technology starting around $150. Geez, get with the times and go buy one already! HAHA

Upgrading to stainless steel appliances is a MUST in a kitchen reno. Especially since we plan to sell this place in a couple years and it was just months ago that we were the ones house hunting and ‘ooo’ing and ‘ahh’ing about any house w/ stainless steel decorating their kitchen.

So here’s how we did it (with a little research & muscle) for $1,875 (could have been much less if we didn’t go quite so fancy) rather than $4000 bundle package we would have had to buy at the appliance store.

We scoured the clearance sections of all the local home improvement stores (weekly), and (daily) and allowed at least a few weeks to truely find the right appliances for us.

Here’s the breakdown:

$900 french door refridgerator with freezer below and water tap inside (Craigslist) After quickly learning that many cheap but fancy refridgerators on Craiglist are cheap because they are on the 4th floor of a condo with no access to an elevator…we started asking everytime a great deal popped up. They swore this one was on the 1st floor of a townhome…but failed to mention that it was a split level so the “1st floor” really did have stairs (guess we should have been more specific?!). Dave and our bro-in-law managed to fanagle this large refridgerator down the stairs then remove the doors to get it out of the house, meanwhile putting huge gash in front door of townhome…oops). Well, it arrived in one piece into our kitchen and looks beautiful.

Maytag Fridge (yikes, it looks dirty)

$125 dishwasher (Craiglist). This just popped up on Craigslist one morning while Dave and his dad were driving down to Sears outlet to pick up our dryer and it happened to be on their way (sort of) so I told the owner that we would be right over. I figured that if it worked like they said it did, it was a great deal. We didn’t hook it up until a month later and prayed it would work…and I’m happy to announce our dishes are as clean as ever!

Kenmore dishwasher

$570 gas stove/convection oven with fancy cast iron grates and stainless steel handles (Sears Outlet). This was the sweetest victory of all because we ‘stole’ it right out from under another seemingly sweet couple who were going to buy it but clearly hadn’t been scouring the market like us (we knew a good deal when we saw one at this point and even the store mgr was surprised by the price). The other couple had run over to Best Buy to check prices there first but came back for this stove. Yes! We won by a mere minute 🙂

Kenmore Range

Last but not least…$280 over the range microwave (Lowes). We thought we had a good buy picking up a seemingly great microwave in the clearance section that was just missing a piece. I ordered the piece, but when we tried to install it we realized there was some damage in the inside that wouldn’t allow the screws to hold the microwave…so it went back to the store and we just bought a different one off the shelf. Full price..boooo! But we did follow the directions and hang it all by ourselves…so proud!

Whirlpool Microwave

Anyone else trying to upgrade appliances or want to share your favorite appliance shopping locations?

How do you clean your stainless appliances…as you can see I need some help in that area LOL. Got a hint yesterday that Orange Glo might help. What do you use?

Weirdest part about this house was how closed off the kitchen was. You had to walk through a skinny hallway and tiny little doorway to get over into the dining/living ‘side’ of the house. But this was nothing that a few [thousand] swings of the sledgehammer couldn’t fix…thankfully Dave enlisted the strength of some of the athletes he trains for this part of the job since it was all that dreaded PLASTER and mesh! Anyone who has EVER dealt with a renovation of a home with plaster will feel our pain here.

Here’s the breakdown of what we had to work with BEFORE:

A fully functioning kitchen…that we HATED. It was very dark and closed in, had impossible to remove wallpaper backspash, old laminate countertops, rusty sink, dirty tile floor, and not terrible (but not our taste) cabinets.

Here’s what we did top to bottom:

1) Remove EVERYTHING. Everything! The day I saw this happen was a little scary. Opened up the space entirely by taking out a row of closets that separated the kitchen from the rest of the house. (We’ll find storage someplace else…i hope) and removed all cabinets, appliances, flooring, ceiling tray & soffet. switched the hook ups for stove/microwave with the dishwasher to allow more counterspace near the fridge. Also wired for under cabinet lights and drywalled over the crazy wallpaper to start fresh. (We didn’t DIY any of this crazy part).

2) Flooring went in:  Our contractor installed beautiful solid bamboo flooring throughout the entire house alternating the seams (like laying subway pattern in tiles)…we like that rich color (even if it is nearly impossible to keep looking clean). They also built a half wall for our island bar top.

3) Cabinets: After MUCH research we opted for a company that was quite cheap (Aurora Line) but we did have to go pick them up and install them ourselves. And we somehow measured wrong and had to re-order 4 cabinets (those beauties have a lovely home installed in our garage now!). After Dave helped our contractor install the first round of cabinets he thought we could probably take in the task of installing the rest ourselves. And sure enough it wasn’t too difficult as long as you have a level and a boat load of shims. This project definitely grew our DIY egos a little bit LOL.

4) Next step was hardware/drawer pulls and toekick. I dragged my husband to his least favorite, and my favorite store: IKEA 🙂 We LOVE the long european handles and intended on putting them on the drawers too, but due to the construction of the drawers, this wouldn’t work (unless we wanted them to be off-center) so we found other pulls for the drawers there as well. IKEA was actually a final contender for our cabinet and appliance purchases as well but decided to go a different route to save just a little more. However, we still liked the look of the stainless steel toekick so we picked that up at IKEA as well! (we haven’t installed all of it yet though)

5) Next we picked up a sink, faucet & garbage disposal at our local Menards. We both really liked the granite composite sink that actually could be mounted above or under the countertop and was the color we were hoping to do the counters. We went for a cheap faucet w/ pullout sprayer (also can be installed w/ single or triple hole). We put temporary (plywood) counters on until we could make that decision and installed the sink temporarily.

6) The countertop decision: This was a tough one. We really needed to do this project on the cheap since we had spent our entire remodeling budget by this time (Doesn’t that always happen?!). So of course we figured we would be getting laminate. BUT we visited Menards and because we had a custom section and didn’t want a backsplash (which is extra?!) our quote came in at over $1,700!! This is when we really started looking into how to pour our own concrete countertops in place (since this would cost under $500)…and the rest is history! (read here for the Concrete Countertop Experiment DIY details)

7)The MUCH needed window treatments: We share a driveway (right outside our kitchen window) with our neighbors and to avoid any more awkward moments we ordered faux wood 2″ blinds in cherry color (without ordering a sample color since this was a rush) and thankfully look great on our windows! Got them custom sized from They came to about $75.  The valance was all scuffed up when it arrived but they quickly shipped us a replacement.

8)The only piece of the puzzle left is the backsplash…and we have one in mind. Much to our surprise we found a mosaic mixed glass and stone backsplash at Menards that we actually love! It has gray, green, tan colors. We are going to attempt that project in the near future and share it with you when that happens.


What do you think? Did we do okay??

Do-it-yourself: Snuggly Soft Rug

Posted: July 31, 2010 in Bedroom, DIY
Tags: , ,

Soft & snuggly, ignore temp curtains and naked walls

I have been dreaming of a VERY snuggly soft rug under our new KING bed (see how we built bed frame for $26 and topped it w/ a mattress and new bedding for under $400 total here) but not willing to pay many-hundreds of dollars, I came across a solution and ‘how-to’ on another blog I like to read. Here is their article if you are curious: Young House Love. They made faux sheepskin rugs & throws out of a shaggy rug and also faux fur fabric to place throughout their house (and even under their Christmas Tree!..Brilliant, I say!). So, an hour later I was at the fabric store contemplating if the bolt of fur would be big enough…and less than 24 hrs later it was in my Master Bedroom.

If you can make little ones, then I’m sure you can make BIG ones, right? I guess mine resembles a polar bear instead?! Some people might hate this idea and this look and to each their own…but I sure like how it feels on my feet 🙂 Here’s how I made it…

Anyone else enjoying any furry or faux ‘friends’ in your home? I’ve never really been into fur before but sure feels nice and our cats and baby seem to like it too!

P.S.-Fabric was $19/yd and I bought 2.5yds x 60″ wide (So, it was $50 which I consider to be quite a deal for a rug). We are keeping it in place with a 4×6 non-skid carpet pads and a little carpet tape on the outer edges. Could have bought a bigger carpet pad and cut it the same way though!